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A China Airlines A350-900 departs from SFO (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Taiwan Sees Flight Suspensions Amid Pandemic

Despite having one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the world, significantly less than neighboring China-adjacent countries such as South Korea and Japan, Taiwan is not immune to the number of flight suspensions plaguing the world.

More airlines are suspending flights serving Taiwan as travel demand plummets and governments around the world, including Taiwan, increasingly tighten its international borders.

Seeing a sharp rise in infections this past week all traced to Taiwanese returning from overseas travel, Taiwan’s government decided earlier this week to stop all foreign passport-holders apart from residence permit holders from coming to the island nation starting from March 19 to slow the global spread of the coronavirus. Those allowed to arrive in the country, including Taiwanese, are required to undergo a 14-day home quarantine.

Prior to Taiwan shutting its borders to foreign nationals, international airlines have already suspended service to Taiwan, including Turkish Airlines, Air New Zealand, Emirates, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air France. Asian airlines such as Air Busan, Air Macau, Cathay Dragon, Cebu Pacific, Eastar Jet, Jeju Air, Korean Air, NokScoot, StarFlyer, T’way Air, have suspended flights to Taiwan entirely. Other regional airlines have suspended some service or operate with limited destinations from Taiwan.

Except for flights to Beijing, Shanghai Pudong, Shanghai Hongqiao, Xiamen, and Chengdu, cross-strait flights between China and Taiwan have all been suspended. 

Taiwanese start-up airline, Starlux Airlines, which has plans to expand to North America by 2022 and had ordered several Airbus A350s and A321neos to accommodate its expansion, recently suspended all operations from March 2 to April 30.

The airline launched during the rise of the pandemic in January and had operated flights to Da Nang, Macau and Penang from Taoyuan Airport. Prior to suspending its operations, it cut all services except for a single daily flight to Da Nang.

The new Taiwan travel restriction has now already seen growing suspensions by airlines flying between Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Thai AirAsia (FD) will cancel all international flights from March 25 to April 25, including the Taoyuan-Chiang Mai route between Taiwan and Thailand. AirAsia (D7) has suspended its flights to Malaysia including its Taoyuan-Sabah flights and Kaohsiung-Kuala Lumpur flights from March 19 to March 31.

Air Asia Japan (DJ) has suspended its Taoyuan-Nagoya flights from March 19 to April 24. Jetstar Asia Airways will suspend all Taiwan flights between March 23 and April 15, and Malindo Air will suspend all Taiwan flights between March 19 and April 30.

Furthermore, no traveler will be allowed to transit via Taiwan until April 7. This restriction will mostly affect Taiwan’s two main carriers, China Airlines and EVA Air, which have in recent years marketed Taoyuan Airport as a convenient and affordable transit airport. Both carriers now require passengers to wear a mask during flights and will require a temperature check, refusing any passengers with a fever.

Albert Kuan
Albert Kuan
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